Tag Archives: josé mourinho

Ibrahimovic looks set to join Mourinho at Man United.

Mino Raiola, the animated agent of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has reached a deal with Manchester United to bring the Swedish international to Old Trafford. The 34-year-old will now seek assurances from José Mourinho over the role he will play in the red shirt before any deal is complete, as Zlatan has no intentions to spending his time on the bench.

It probably comes as no surprise that the Swede wishes to partner up with the former Chelsea boss. “I have spoken to Mourinho every day since I left Inter,” Ibrahimovic said at a Sweden press conference. “We talk a lot”. He was never going to join rivals Man City, now led by the man who forced him out of his “dream move” to Barcelona, Pep Guardiola.


Tottenham did make Ibrahimovic a concrete offer, but it was turned down. The former PSG striker has eyes on only one thing – working is The Special One again. It will be a major acquisition for United should they finally put pen to paper, and things around the red half of Manchester should get quite interesting. Especially when Mourinho AND Ibrahimovic’s nemesis, Guardiola, comes to Old Trafford.


Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

Mourinho set to become Man United manager this week.

Louis van Gaal has appeared to have taken charge of Manchester United for the last time following his FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace yesterday. The Red Devils’ performances under the Dutchman have been sub-par to what the club expects, having been a dominant side for two decades.

Rumours emerged that months ago that José Mourinho would be the replacement. One street vendor outside Old Trafford last January went as far as selling Manchester United scarves with the Portuguese’s image across it along with the words “The Special One”. Now multiple reports suggest that the 53-year-old will indeed be taking over in the hot seat for the red half of Manchester.


Mourinho is box-office. A proven winner, he’s one of the most recognizable figures in the game. His unbeaten home record alone from 2002 until 2011 is phenomenal. And no doubt, most, if not all, Man United fans will welcome this appointment.

But it’s an appointment that some will no doubt be cautious of. From his parking the bus with Inter Milan to eye-gouging the late Tita Vilanova when at Real Madrid. And from his infamous public bust up with Chelsea physio Eva Carneiro to being sacked by The Blues … twice (the second time was following a string of unusually poor results which left his beloved Chelsea just above the relegation zone), José Mourinho, to some, has as many cons as he does pros.

Interesting times ahead at Old Trafford, that’s for sure.


Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)


What next for Fernando Torres?

It’s three years now since Fernando Torres left Anfield for Stamford Bridge for a fee of £50 million – a British record. His tenure at Liverpool was quite successful. In his four years on Merseyside, the Spanish international scored 65 goals in 102 league games. Not a bad ratio. He’s played almost the same amount of league games for Chelsea and hasn’t even scored a third of what he achieved at Liverpool. So the question is: what next for Fernando Torres?

There was a time when Torres was one of, if not, the world’s best striker. It was the former Spanish manager Luis Aragonés (who sadly passed away last Saturday) that showed him a lot of faith, making him a regular in the national side while dropping national hero Raul in the process.

Torres was now firmly Spain’s no. 9 while David Villa was given the sacred no. 7 jersey of Spain. Now many reckon that current coach Vicente Del Bosque needs to do what Aragonés did with Raul with some of the current players – starting with Fernando Torres.


Indeed he’s not the greatest striker in the world anymore. He’s not the greatest striker in the Premier League and for some time now he has even being having difficulty getting his name on the starting sheet for Chelsea. I’m sure you will agree that El Niño needs a brand new start.

Chelsea manager José Mourinho insists that Torres remains part of his plans. But with Samuel Eto’o ahead of him, what realistically could the star gain from starting most games on the bench? With the World Cup mere months away, Torres will likely be nervous as to wonder if he will make it into Del Bosque’s squad.

Forwards Álvaro Negredo, Cristian Tello, Roberto Soldado and the frankly brilliant and in-form Diego Costa will all be eager for that no. 9 jersey of La Roja. Is time running out for Torres?

I hope El Niño gets a second wind as I have always been a fan, going back to his Atlético days. Because on his day Fernando Torres can be one of the greatest players to watch. It’s a shame we haven’t seen that magic in a while. I for one hope he finds his mojo again – I just can’t see it being in a Chelsea jersey.


Follow Rob Smith on Twitter (@robsmithireland)


Champions League is back! Gameweek 1 preview.

Champions League is back. Is anyone else excited? Oh, everyone is? Ok then. Let’s waste no more time and have a look what’s to come over the next couple of days in Europe’s biggest club competition.

In Group A, it’s an unbelievably massive fixture for David Moyes as he leads his Manchester United side against Bayer Leverkusen at Old Trafford. Usually, I’d say “ah, it’s business as usual” if Fergie was in charge. But it’s a new era and, to be honest, I don’t know it’s going to fare. United will have to keep the criminally under-rated Stefan Kießling quiet, that I do know.
The people of San Sebastian will be treated to a night of Champions League football as Real Sociedad take on Shakhtar Donetsk at Anoeta. It’s been ten whole years since the Basque side played in Europe. Shakhtar, on the other hand, are at this point veterans of the Champions League and will be looking to spoil the party.

Group B sees Turkish giants Galatasaray take on Real Madrid. Will Gareth Bale feature? Carlo Ancelotti may give the Welshman a run out following his debut where he scored for Madrid. Start as you mean to go on as they say. Gala aren’t pushovers though, with big names such as Sneijder and Drogba in the squad, not to mention that ferocious home support, it’ll be tough for CR7 & co.

Current champions Bayern Munich entertain CSKA Moscow. This is Pep Guardiola’s big return to the competition, having last won the cup in 2011, beating Man United at Wembley in the final. CSKA will prove to be good opponents as they are unbeaten in the Russian Premier League, which began in July.

Chelsea take on FC Basel at Stamford Bridge. The Swiss outfit will be fresh in the misery of English clubs as they look to build on eliminating Manchester United from two seasons ago. Chelsea however, along with new names such as Samuel Eto’o, Andre Schurrle and Willian won’t let anyone get the better of them on their own turf – not on José’s watch.

Group F contains four excellent teams and is, in my view anyway, one of the most intriguing groups. Arsenal, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli will all battle it out. Anyone could end up in first – or last place. Arsenal travel to the south of France to face Marseille first as Rafa Benitez’s Napoli will take on Borussia Dortmund.

Finally, the media dubbed Group H as “the group of death”. For Celtic, that is certainly true. They travel to Italy to face AC Milan. And despite the return of the prodigal son Kaká from Real Madrid, I truly think Celtic have caught Milan at a good time. The time is now. Then again, the San Siro is an incredibly hard place to win for anyone.
Barcelona entertain Ajax – a club who the Catalans historically model themselves on. On paper, the Dutch side have no chance. But Barça’s new coach Tata Martino will be put to the test in his first ever European job. No pressure then.


What are your predictions? Let Rob Smith know on Twitter (@robsmithireland)

The past week in football: from German blushes to the Special One's return

What a week it’s been in the world of football. I suppose the biggest news is that José Mourinho has gone back to Ch…oh you’ve heard. Well, it’s big news for English football and, possibly more so, for English journalists. The Special One has been known to give a good interview or three (something the Spanish press didn’t appreciate).

Mourinho will have his work cut out for him in my honest opinion. Yes – he is a winner. Yes – his record speaks for itself. Yes – he is loved by Chelsea fans. But the pressure will be on him to deliver as he did the first time around. It’s a different team he’s inheriting in 2013 as opposed to the one he managed when he left six years ago.

Over in Germany, the unstoppable Bayern Munich won the DFB-Pokal, becoming the first German team to win a continental treble, defeating Stuttgart 3-2 in Berlin. A nice way for Jupp Heynckes to bow out. It also leaves new coach Pep Guardiola in the knowledge that the only way is down.

With Man City already agreed to purchase Spanish winger Jesus Navas, Liverpool could also be busy in the forthcoming transfer window as Brendan Rodgers rumoured to be eyeing up Greek defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos from Schalke, and Shakhtar Donestk’s brilliant Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Of course, they will likely be looking for a replacement striker for Luis Suarez who confirmed last week that he wants out of Anfield. Many publications have named some potential strikers for the number 7 shirt, with out-of-favour Barcelona star David Villa’s name coming up more than once.

While we’re taling about the Catalans, sixty thousand fans packed into the Camp Nou to see Neymar‘s presentation as a Barcelona player on Monday. It came just hours after the Brazilian had a fairly quiet game in the 2-2 draw against England in Rio de Janeiro. On the same day, Ireland hosted Georgia at the Aviva stadium.

It’s the first Ireland game I’ve missed in some years (I was at Forbidden Fruit instead), and of course, with my luck I missed a goal-fest as we managed an impressive 4-0 win.

Speaking of friendlies, Germany faced the USA at the RFK stadium in Washington DC. The Americans managed a surprise 4-3 victory, but the game will be remembered for this bizarre own goal. Well done, ‘keeper.

Well that was the past week in a nutshell (less than 500 words is a nutshell in this sport). More transfer rumours, movers, shakers, and clichés to come. Ok, maybe not the last one.


Be sure to send your comments, questions or even footie gossip to Rob Smith via Twitter (@robsmithireland).

What next for Barça and where next for Mourinho?

Adios amigos. The two Spanish teams are out of the Champions League and it will be an all-German affair come May 25th when Bayern Munich take on Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. The last time a Bundesliga club won this trophy was back in 2001. But while German football continues to increasingly shine, lots of people are wondering what next for Spain’s “big two”.

“End of an era” is what many journalists wrote on Wednesday night after Barcelona‘s 7-0 aggregate defeat against Bayern Munich. Some players, such as Xavi, dismissed such headlines. “There’s no need to be drastic,” he told Spanish television. “The team has a future, we’ve competed very well up until now. I’m always optimistic and this team has the desire.”

Under Pep Guardiola, the squad played incredible football week-in, week-out. To win games 4-0 and 5-0 wasn’t a big surprise. But Pep has gone, and under current coach Tito Vilanova, there’s been a different style of football. In fact without Leo Messi, it’s like a completely different team to that of the one 12 months ago. After Guardiola, the only way was down.

The defeat at the hands of Bayern stings the Catalans – mainly because of the nil part in the scoreline. Barça are better than that – even if they did face the team who, in my opinion, are playing the best football in any league this season. That said, Barcelona are on course to win another La Liga title.

José Mourinho, meanwhile, made it pretty clear to the media that his time is all but up at Real Madrid following his side’s defeat to Borussia Dortmund. “I know I am loved in England. I am loved by some clubs,” said the Special One, “especially one”. You don’t have to be a genius to know exactly who that “one” is.

But while José is eyeing up a return to England (he won’t be at PSG next despite what you may hear), what next for Real Madrid? In the past decade, the club has gone through eleven coaches. And getting a new one wouldn’t be much a problem. To coach Madrid is, and always has been, one of the biggest jobs in world football. But who? Lots of candidates. I wouldn’t rule out the likes of Ernesto Valverde or even, brace yourselves, Rafa Benitez.

But José’s departure will be music to the ears of certain Madrid players, especially club captains Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas – both of whom had fallen out with the Portugese coach. And they’re not the only ones. A change of management will likely give Los Blancos a boost for next season – especially when rivals Barcelona’s morale is, despite being all but crowned league champions, at an unusual low.

While Spain’s “big two” are feeling crushed, two of Germany big guns are getting even bigger.


What do you think the future holds for Barcelona and Real Madrid? Let Rob Smith know on Twitter (@robsmithireland) and be sure to check us out on Facebook (/FootballElMundo). Enjoy your weekend.

Another manager required at Chelsea. Apply within.

Just the one win in Chelsea‘s last seven matches and only three from their last 12 in the league, billionaire owner Roman Abramovich acted the way he knows best in these situations: by giving yet another manager the chop. This time on the receiving end of it was André Villas-Boas. Saturday’s 1-0 league defeat to West Brom was the final straw for the powers that be at Stamford Bridge. What next for the Blues?

Well, Roberto Di Matteo will take charge for the mean time, but who will be the next permanent manager (if such a title is possible at Chelsea)? Already the bookies are looking to José Mourinho. And he was in London just a few days ago house-hunting. Was Abramovich already in touch with The Special One? Another contender would be Rafa Benitez. He wouldn’t be too popular after his time with Liverpool and he’s not exactly a very attacking coach – similar to Fabio Capello. Abramovich is keen to have Chelsea play exciting, attacking football. If I was a betting man, I’d bet on Mourinho getting that gig. I’m surprised Frank Rijkaard‘s name hasn’t been mentioned yet – the Blues have eyed up the former Barcelona boss in the past.

And as for AVB? Well, despite his claims, it was painfully clear that the players simply weren’t playing for him at Chelsea (his age may have been as issue here). But that doesn’t mean he could succeed in a league like back home in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, Italy’s Serie A or even Spain’s La Liga. And you never know – if I’m right, there may be a vacancy at Real Madrid soon enough. Get your CV at the ready, André.

London calling for The Special One?

International fixtures are what’s on the menu this week for many a footballer and football fan. But Real Madrid manager José “Special One” Mourinho began his week by taking a flight to London on Tuesday morning and, according to Madrid-based sports newspaper AS, went house hunting in the English capital alongside his wife, Matilde.

Is he leaving Real Madrid? He may well do. Despite Madrid’s current league advantage over rivals Barcelona, Mourinho has not had the easiest of relationships with club president Florentino Perez or indeed some of the Spanish press – some of whom quite publicly do not respect Mourinho’s work at Madrid. But that is one of many possible reasons why The Special One would leave the Bernebéu.

And London? Is ‘Arry Redknapp taking the vacant England job and Mourinho is to the new replacement at Spurs? I wouldn’t bet on it. More likely he’s returning to Chelsea if anything – a club where he is worshipped. The Blues’ current manager André Villas-Boas is coming under fire from the powers that be upstairs at Chelsea. And given how ruthless that club is with managers, it would be a miracle if AVB was still in charge there next season. Mourinho back to The Bridge? Definitely maybe.

Mourinho spotted in London by a fan on Tuesday near Stamford Bridge. (Photo: TWITTER @CarefreeJD)

Here comes the son

Football el Mundo was in Milan at the weekend. Sadly there was no time to take in a pilgrimage to the San Siro. But there was time to read the local football press. One of the main stories was José Mourinho including a 16-year old youth to join his first team training this week. His name? Enzo Zidane. You read that surname correctly. It is his son.

Of course, Zizou was, in my opinion, in the top three of the greatest players to ever play the game. A World Cup-winner and himself a Madrid ‘galactico’ who retired at the top of his game in 2006 – despite that incident with Marco Materazzi. Will his son be any good? Well, the answer is simply that he just might be. Whether you’re the son of Cruyff, Maradona or George Best, not anyone can train with Madrid. Not unless you’re a very hot prospect. Luckily this particular one can get the best fatherly advice from a modern day genius.
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Of course the next generation won’t be all former superstar players’ sons. But you never know – Robert Keane Jnr. may well captain his country, Brooklyn Beckham could just be able to bend it like his father. But Paolo Maldini’s kid can certainly time a tackle just as good as his old man – and against Clarence Seedorf no less. Have a look.
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Has José Mourinho taken it a little too far this time?

Eye-gouging on the touchline. Well, it’s certainly a new approach to get under someone’s skin from The Special One as his Real Madrid side travelled to Barcelona‘s Camp Nou during the week for the 2nd leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

Following Marcelo’s two-legged tackle on Barça’s Cesc Fabregas, chaos ensued at the sideline. Red cards were being thrown around to Marcelo, Mesut Ozil and David Villa. Then Mourinho very calmly walks up behind Pep Guardiola’s number two Tito Vilanova and very bizarelly sticks his finger in the Barça assistant’s eye. Vilanova retaliated by pushing The Special One who in turn responded with a menacing smile.

Cue post-match uproar in Catalonia. Barcelona vice-president Carles Villarubi described the Real Madrid boss as a “stain on football”. Defender Gerard Pique said that “someone has to take action on the matter. Mourinho is destroying Spanish football”. Someone probably should take action against The Special One – but in truth, it will be likely he’ll avoid punishment as the incident wasn’t in the referee’s report and it’s understood that Barça won’t make a complaint to the Spanish FA.

Then in a post-match press conference, Mourinho described Barça as a “small team” while Pep Guardiola said that he could only congratulate his players “for their way of thinking”. A strange night in the Catalan capital and a very ill-tempered end to a game that witnessed (and overshadowed) greatness from Leo Messi, who very nearly clinched another hat-trick against the old enemy.

Has José Mourinho taken it a little too far this time?
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Always read the small print

In January, Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam was linked with a move away from Bloomfield Road and was rumoured with a transfer to Liverpool. The seasiders’ manager Ian “Ollie” Holloway would make a percentage of any transfer Adam completes and came under criticism as many claimed this was the reason he held off bids from Liverpool even labelling their £4 million offer as “disgraceful”.

Adam eventually made the move to Anfield for £7 million last week, Ollie made a nice few bob out of the deal and the media said nothing about it. But Holloway personally making a nice lump sum of cash out of a transfer isn’t the first unusual clause in a footballer’s contract.

When former Arsenal midefielder Stefan Schwarz joined Sunderland in 1999, the Swede had a clause in his contract banning him from space flight. “At the end of the day we are protecting the club really”, said then-chief executive John Fickling “But one day it could become be quite acceptable to put such clauses in various contracts”. And with that went Schwarz’s ambitions of becoming the next Neil Armstrong.

Got a billion quid spare? Because that’s how much Real Madrid maestro Cristiano Ronaldo‘s buy-out clause is. Buy-out clauses are normally three or four times a player’s market value to keep temptations away from other clubs. Messi’s, for example, is approximately €300 million. Now, nobody has €300 million to spend on a player, let alone €1 billion. Looks like Cristiano’s going nowhere. Unless if Man City….

Finally, Chelsea paid €15 million to FC Porto to activate André Villas-Boas’ release clause in his contract for the Portugese side to join the London team. But another former Porto and Chelsea manager went one better. Before winning the treble with Inter, José “The Special One” Mourinho said “My contract is simple. I’ve got another three years, with a clause that allows me to leave whenever I want”. Then along came Real Madrid and the rest, as they say, is history. At least Inter then hired Rafa Benitez. Ahem.
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Ones to watch #6 : Alvaro Morata

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez’s famous galactico policy in the early 2000’s meant that youngsters coming through the ranks of los blancos might find it hard getting into the team alongside the Beckhams, Zidanes, Figos and the likes. However some (though very few) did.

Perez is currently in his second stint as Madrid president and his so-called second galactico era is in full swing with Madrid forking out absolute millions for the likes of Kaká, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Young players like Pedro Leon and Sergio Canales are all enjoying life on Madrid’s most senior roster – though neither are graduates. One Madrid youth player who is catching the eye of the media and, more importantly, also José Mourinho is local 18 year-old Alvaro Morata.

Morata has been a product of Madrid’s youth system since he was 15 (though his first youth team was city rivals Atlético) and has been wowing the crowds almost every time he dons the famous white shirt for youth side Real Madrid Castilla. He has all the traits that The Special One loves in strikers : height, strength, arial ability and a deadly eye for goal. Which is probably why Mourinho took him on Madrid’s pre-season tour in the US. The youngster is already a regular for Spain’s under-18’s and under-19’s where he averages almost a goal every game.
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One thing is for sure, José Mourinho is certainly keeping his eye on Morata and even gave him a cameo in the senior team, coming on as a substitute against Zaragoza last December, though the Portugese manager insists the player needs more time to grow with Castilla. Rivals Barcelona may embrace their youth teams a lot more than Madrid, but one thing is for sure – Madrid would be foolish to let this young lad go elsewhere too easily. The “new Morientes” is one to watch, for sure.